Packaging Knowledge:
An Information Continuum

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-080. June 2015.

  1. Abstracts
  2. Acronyms
  3. Addresses
  4. Advertisements
  5. Advice
  6. Alerts
  7. Analysis
  8. Announcements
  9. Archives
  10. Artwork
  11. Atlas
  12. Audio
  13. Awards
  14. Best Practices
  15. Bibliographies
  16. Biographies
  17. Books
  18. Briefs
  19. Brochures
  20. Bulletins
  21. Calendar
  22. Cartoons
  23. Case Studies
  24. Catalogues
  25. Cause-and-effect
  26. CD-ROMs
  27. Charts
  28. Charts
  29. Checklists
  30. Chronicles
  31. Collections
  32. Columns
  33. Commentaries
  35. Concepts
  36. Courses
  37. Data
  38. Databases
  39. Definitions
  40. Demonstrations
  41. Designs
  42. Diaries
  43. Dictionaries
  44. Directories
  45. Documents
  46. Drawings
  47. Editorial
  48. Email
  49. Encyclopaedia
  50. Essays
  51. Events
  52. Examples
  53. Excerpts
  54. Exercises
  55. Exhibitions
  56. Extracts
  57. Fact Sheets
  58. FAQs
  59. Feedback
  60. Films
  61. Fliers
  62. Flip-charts
  63. Forecasts
  64. Forums
  65. Frameworks
  66. Glossaries
  67. Good Practices
  68. Graphics
  69. Guidelines
  70. Guides
  71. Handouts
  72. Headlines
  73. Highlights
  74. Hypotheses
  75. Ideas
  76. Images
  77. Indicators
  1. Insights
  2. Introductions
  3. Issues
  4. Jokes
  5. Journals
  6. Keywords
  7. Lectures
  8. Letters
  9. Links
  10. Lists
  11. Manuals
  12. Maps
  13. Media Advisories
  14. Messages
  15. Methods
  16. Models
  17. Modules
  18. Namecards
  19. Newsletters
  20. Newspapers
  21. Notes
  22. Notices
  23. One-pagers
  24. Opinions
  25. Outlines
  26. Overviews
  27. Pamphlets
  28. Papers
  29. Patterns
  30. Periodicals
  31. Photographs
  32. Plans
  33. Posters
  34. Press Kits
  35. Profiles
  36. Prototypes
  37. Questions
  38. Recommendations
  39. References
  40. Reports
  41. Reviews
  42. Samples
  43. Scenarios
  44. Screenshots
  45. Series
  46. Showcases
  47. Sketches
  48. Slides
  49. Snapshots
  50. Software
  51. Solutions
  52. Speeches
  53. Spotlight
  54. Standards
  55. Statements
  56. Statistics
  57. Stories
  58. Strategies
  59. Suggestions
  60. Summaries
  61. Survey
  62. Systems
  63. Tables
  64. Talks
  65. Testimonials
  66. Themes
  67. Timelines
  68. Tools
  69. Topics
  70. Trends
  71. Tutorials
  72. Updates
  73. Videos
  75. Websites
  76. White papers
  77. Workbooks
  78. Working Papers
The value of knowledge can be realized only when it is disseminated and shared - and used. The objective of this document is to list out the various formats in which knowledge can be packaged and discuss the circumstances under which these formats are used.

The collection listed below is broad. Some focus on the format of presentation, and some on the content of the message. Some use graphics to deliver the message, some use text. Some present the message in listed points or in summary/abstract format, some in descriptive/verbose format. Some formats are temporal, short-term or long-term, others atemporal. Some formats are specificaly developed for online dissemination environments, others offline - still others are appropriate for both environments.

The collection is therefore a continuum, an information continuum, where the position of an information format changes as the defining scales of the continuum itself change. The scales could be - size of the target audience, volume of info to be disseminated etc. Selecting an appropriate information packging format depends on a number of factors: (a) the problem or issue being addressed, (b) the decision-making process, (c) the information user/stakeholder - type as well as number of users, (d) the level/scale at which the activities are taking place, (e) the intended effect of providing the information, and (f) the medium through which the information is delivered.

Study the list carefully. Try to associate the format with the information in hand - and see how the message changes its 'digestability' depending on the format used. And answer the following questions: what is the message that is being delivered? What appripriate medium can be used for the purpose? Who are the target audience (including the type of audience, number and scale at which they function)? When, where and how is the actual dissemination to take place? The answer to these and related questions will help in selecting the appropriate format!

The same body of data can be used for different dissemination purposes, by modifiying the information format used.

The list is in no way complete or exhaustive. The list was developed by scanning websites, library materials, newsletters and bulletins etc. Some may seem silly ('jokes'), or inappropriate ('spotlights' or talks'), or not quite an info format ('acronyms'), or simply the same ('snapshots' and 'photos'). But the objective behind this list is not to document or list all information formats, but to emphasize the need to think differently. Information dissemination is done not just through a 'book' or 'report' (yes, both are included in the list!) - but there are many, many other ways in which info can be presented, depending on the intended effect. Thus the same body of data or information can have totally different effects on its users, depending on the format used.

This approach is epitomised by the 'information pyramid'. Usually, only the top 'finished' information is visible or disseminated. Other interim formats, including the base - raw data - is simply not used and is lost except for the people actually generating the data. But these interim stages of information is equally important to create different types of useage and intended effects on the target audience.

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